Maryland Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA) Announces 2016 Award Recipients on October 06, 2016



Jessica A. Quincosa, Esq.
(202) 906-0095


Media Advisory: Maryland Hispanic Bar Association* Announces 2016 Award Recipients on October 06, 2016

Maria Gabriela (“Gaby”) Pacheco to be Keynote Speaker at the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association’s Twenty Third Anniversary Gala

Rockville, MD – The Maryland Hispanic Bar Association has announced the 2016 award recipients, which will be presented at the Twenty-Third Anniversary Gala on October 6, 2016.

The Keynote Speaker will be Maria Gabriela (“Gaby”) Pacheco.  Gaby is a nationally recognized immigrant rights leader.  In 1993, at the age of eight, Gaby immigrated to the United States with her family from Guayaquil, Ecuador.  They arrived with tourist visas and were unable to secure legal resident status.  Gaby gained national recognition in 2004 for her advocacy of the DREAM Act and immigration reform.  In 2005, she co-started a Florida-based immigrant youth group advocating for in-state tuition for undocumented students.  In 2006, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) targeted her and her family and in an early morning raid detained her family.  In 2010, with three other undocumented students, they led the Trail of Dreams, a four-month walk from Miami to Washington, DC to call attention to the plight of immigrants under the threat of deportation and the need for immigration reform.  In 2012, as political director for United We Dream, she spearheaded the efforts that led to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

On April 22, 2013, Gaby became the first undocumented Latina to testify before of Congress, speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the urgent need for immigration reform.  In 2015, she delivered The New School Commencement Speech, where she received a Doctoral Degree in Humanities Honoris Causa.  Gaby was recently named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30: Education in 2015 and has also been recognized as one of 40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics.  In August 2015, Pacheco was profiled in Elle magazine alongside America Ferrera, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick and others for a feature production on the world’s most accomplished 30-year-old women.  Gaby holds an Associate of Arts degree in Music Education, an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education K-12 from Miami Dade College.

The recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award is The Honorable Yolanda Curtin.  This award recognizes contributions and substantial accomplishments in the Advancement of the Profession, Professional Achievement, Contributions to Education and Outreach, and Mentoring.  This award honors legal practitioners who maximize attorney potential; foster high ethical standards; increase diversity in the legal workforce; reach innovative achievements in service to their clients, bar associations, legal service organizations and demonstrates substantial pro bono work; engage in efforts having a significant impact on, and leading to improvements in, legal education and in expanding the public’s understanding of the law and the legal profession; and, make exemplary and sustained mentoring efforts that directly enhance one or more persons’ education and career development.

Hon. Judge Yolanda L. Curtin is an Associate Judge on the Circuit Court for Harford County, Maryland.  She was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States with her parents several years after the Cuban Revolution.  Similar to the dreams and hopes of others who have left their birthplace for greater opportunities, Judge Curtin and her family faced significant challenges in their quest to achieve the American dream, but they persevered.  Shortly after arriving in the United States her father died, but despite this tragic loss, Hon. Judge Curtin’s mother defied all odds to make a better life for her daughters.  In the early 1970s, Hon. Judge Curtin and her family settled in Union City, New Jersey, a predominately Hispanic community.   It was in this community that Hon. Judge Curtin learned the many lessons in life that would shape the course of her future.  Every day she was reminded of the value of receiving an education and that challenges in life should never be viewed as obstacles, but rather as opportunities to make things better; not just for herself, but more importantly for others.  On September 16, 1974, at the age of eight, she became a citizen of the United States of America.

In 1989, Hon. Judge Curtin received her Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University, with a double major in Economics and English.  In 1992 she received her Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers Law School – Camden, and in 1993 her L.L.M in securities regulation from Georgetown University Law Center.  In 1993, Hon. Judge Curtin moved to Maryland and commenced a long legal career in public service.  She spent 10 years as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Harford County, where her duties included prosecuting violent crimes, as well as cases investigated by the Harford County Narcotics Task Force.  Since 2002, Hon. Judge Curtin has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law teaching the course of Oral and Written Advocacy to first year law students.  In 2004, Hon. Judge Curtin became an Administrative Law Judge with the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, and she served in that capacity until her appointment to the Circuit Court.  On October 17, 2013, she was appointed to the bench by then Governor Martin O’Malley.  Hon. Judge Curtin’s appointment set many first in Harford County, as she was the first Hispanic judge to sit on any of the courts in Harford County, and her appointment also tipped the scale in favor of women on the bench for the first time in the county’s courts’ history.

Having been fortunate to have mentors and role models throughout her life who positively impacted her life, Hon. Judge Curtin remained committed to actively working with civic and professional organizations to give back to the legal community and to help direct a positive future for others.  For many years she has mentored law students and young attorneys, and has participated in outreach programs to encourage and promote a more diverse legal profession through her involvement with the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association and the Harford County Bar Association.  Hon. Judge Curtin is married to her husband of 23 years, Dr. Sean M. Curtin, and they have two adult sons, Calvin and Matthew.

The Public Service Award recognizes attorneys and non-lawyers for unusual and significant contributions to the Hispanic/Latino Community, to the State of Maryland and to the community in which they live or work.  This award honors community organizations, businesses, civic leaders and private citizens for their contributions to the improvement of Public Service at all levels, encouraging all individual citizens and organizations to engage in constructive activities, as well as to pursue standards of excellence in the performance of their duties, and to go beyond and outside of their immediate day-to-day responsibilities.

The recipient of this year’s Public Service Award is Maricé Morales.  In November 2014, Maricé Morales became the first Latina to represent District 19 and the first Peruvian-American to be elected as a Maryland Delegate.  She is one of the newest members of the House Judiciary Committee, the youngest female member of the Democratic Caucus, and Treasurer of the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus.  Delegate Morales has introduced legislation seeking to reform our criminal justice system, study trends in human trafficking, and reform the Maryland criminal code on issues regarding sexual assault and crimes against women.  She currently works for a Maryland union as a wage investigator, preventing wage discrimination and wage theft.  Delegate Morales has worked internationally and domestically at the federal, state, and local levels in the areas of human rights and discrimination, civic engagement, labor and employment, and criminal justice reform.

Delegate Morales holds a Juris Doctor from the University Of Maryland Francis King Carey School Of Law, a Master in Public Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Affairs and French from George Mason University. Delegate Morales is also a member of the National Caucus of Hispanic Legislators, the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association, and the Women Legislators’ Lobby.  She is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.

The Leadership Award recognizes an individual attorney’s distinct and extraordinary accomplishments with identifiable impacts that have provided a significant advance in enabling, understanding or communicating key legal issues during the past five-year period.  This award is designed to recognize one or more instances of extraordinary work, of outstanding quality or of unusual importance performed by an attorney, displayed commitment to activities that advance the profession and improve society or demonstrated outstanding skill or effort above and beyond his or her prescribed professional duties and workload.

The recipient of this year’s Leadership Award is Carlos F. Acosta.  Mr. Acosta has lead a long career as both a federal and local prosecutor and currently serves as Inspector General for the Prince George’s County Police Department.  In that role Mr. Acosta functions as the independent authority over the Internal Affairs Division, as well as being responsible to investigate systemic or programmatic issues affecting the police department’s missions.  Previously, he served as Deputy State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County and as Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Gang Squad.  As a federal prosecutor, he also served as program manager for the Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training program for the Mérida Initiative (Mexico).  Mr. Acosta also served as a speaker on panel discussions for the American Bar Association on ethical issues for public lawyers, as well as legal issues for Inspectors General.  Mr. Acosta was asked to present a week-long course in Kosovo on “Death Investigations” to national police and prosecutors on behalf of the U.S. Department of State and Department of Justice.  Most recently, he went to Neuquén, Argentina (Fall 2015) to train local and national prosecutors on “Jury Trial Advocacy: Techniques and Strategies”.  Mr. Acosta is currently an adjunct Associate Professor of Law at the American University Washington College of Law, where he has been since 1997.  In that capacity, he teaches the Trial Advocacy Program, which include courses in prosecutorial ethics, as well as prosecuting complex homicides.

Media are invited to attend the MHBA Twenty Third Anniversary Gala which will be held at: Martin’s Crosswinds, 7400 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770, on Thursday, October 6, 2016.  The event will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Gala attendees include representatives of the Maryland and federal judiciary, the state government, specialty bar associations, community organizations and state and local Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, among many others.  For more information, reservations, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit the MHBA, or contact Jessica Quincosa at

*MHBA members are attorneys, law students, and paralegals of Hispanic/Latino descent or who have an interest in the issues that affect the Hispanic/Latino community in the State of Maryland and are dedicated to serve the public interest by cultivating the science of jurisprudence, promoting reform in the law, facilitating the administration of justice, fostering respect of the law among the Hispanic/Latino community, advancing the standing of the legal profession, preserving high standards of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among attorneys, and establishing closer relationships among Hispanic/Latino attorneys and those attorneys who have an interest in the Hispanic/Latino community.